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T cell homeostasis: thymus regeneration and peripheral T cell restoration in mice with a reduced fraction of competent precursors.

Abstract : We developed a novel experimental strategy to study T cell regeneration after bone marrow transplantation. We assessed the fraction of competent precursors required to repopulate the thymus and quantified the relationship between the size of the different T cell compartments during T cell maturation in the thymus. The contribution of the thymus to the establishment and maintenance of the peripheral T cell pools was also quantified. We found that the degree of thymus restoration is determined by the availability of competent precursors and that the number of double-positive thymus cells is not under homeostatic control. In contrast, the sizes of the peripheral CD4 and CD8 T cell pools are largely independent of the number of precursors and of the number of thymus cells. Peripheral "homeostatic" proliferation and increased export and/or survival of recent thymus emigrants compensate for reduced T cell production in the thymus. In spite of these reparatory processes, mice with a reduced number of mature T cells in the thymus have an increased probability of peripheral T cell deficiency, mainly in the naive compartment.
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A. R. Almeida, J. A. Borghans, A. A. Freitas. T cell homeostasis: thymus regeneration and peripheral T cell restoration in mice with a reduced fraction of competent precursors.. The Journal of Experimental Medecine, The Rockefeller University Press, 2001, 194 (5), pp.591-9. ⟨10.1084/jem.194.5.591⟩. ⟨pasteur-00327507⟩

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